2:00PM Water Cooler 7/26/2022

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, I couldn’t do anything more than the usual charts for Covid today, so you will have to wait for your ration of horrid news tomorrow, because I must move on to another task. –lambert

Bird Song of the Day

Dusky Lark, Zambia. “Song in display flight.”

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“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” –Hunter Thompson

Capitol Seizure

“What We May Never Know About Jan. 6” (podcast) [Deconstructed]. The Intercept’s podcast, but curiously devoid of energy. Lots of interesting nuggets, making it worth a listen. For example, I didn’t know that there’s evidence of the rioters actually reacting to Trump’s tweets during the riot in real time (apparently, that’s why they went home). Of course, there wasn’t a Tweet that said “Now go to the Senate Podium and read the Martial Law Declaration while we arrange to broadcast it,” so we got the dude with the buffalo horn hat instead. Nevertheless.

“Secret Service Must Come Clean on Missing Texts” [Bloomberg]. “The apparent problem was that the service had reset its mobile phones as part of a long-planned switch to a new software-management application. Although it had told agents to back up any work-related text messages, many of them failed to do so. The migration went ahead, the phones were wiped, and potentially crucial evidence was destroyed. What can you do? To put it mildly, this was a rather unusual process. Whether at a government agency or a private company, retention of such records normally happens automatically. A systemwide backup would be conducted before any migration. Existing messages would be routinely preserved. Under no circumstances would individual employees get to pick and choose what data to preserve while an investigation is underway.” • Again, my speculation is that the Secret Service’s intent in planning the changeover was to bury yet another prostitution scandal. Of course, it’s possible to kill two birds with one stone, especially for oppportunists.

“Trump’s credibility shredded; Secret Service purge imperative” [The Hill]. “Despite batting near zero in court, Trump and his misfits continued the claims of fraud as he set in motion what the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), described as a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the election. During the earlier hearings, the committee revealed evidence and testimony of six of the seven schemes. Thursday’s hearing revealed the final one — that Trump ignored multiple pleas to stop the violence.” • And the endpoint of the “schemes” was…. this:

(I mean, an endpoint other than Ashli Babbit’s, who got whacked by a cop.)

“The Purpose Of Sharing Your January 6 Trauma” [The American Conservative]. • See Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.


“Laws targeting free speech about abortion would put journalists in the line of fire” [Prism]. “What does it mean for a website to “encourage” abortion? New anti-abortion model legislation released last week by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) would force anyone who publishes work online to grapple with that question, putting journalists who cover abortion squarely into legal crosshairs. The model legislation—which NRLC hopes will be adopted by state legislatures around the country—would subject people to criminal and civil penalties for ‘aiding or abetting’ an abortion, including ‘hosting or maintaining a website, or providing internet service, that encourages or facilitates efforts to obtain an illegal abortion.’ Unsurprisingly, the text offers no guidance on how broadly or narrowly the provision might be interpreted.” • Sounds rather like the Fugitive Slave Law, which enjoined Northerners in non-slave owning states who abhorred slavery to nevertheless return escaped slaves to their putative owners.

Biden Administration

“Biden goes silent after SCOTUS gives him power to nix Trump immigration policy” [Politico]. “Last month, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the Biden administration to unwind a Trump-era policy that has forced thousands of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, often in dangerous settings, for their U.S. court proceedings. But having previously moved quickly to end the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, the administration has suddenly decided to take its time. The White House and Department of Homeland Security have been mum on their plans following the Supreme Court’s ruling. Immigration advocates asking about next steps have been met with a similar silence. In that void, a question has emerged: What, exactly, is the hold up?” • I can’t imagine!


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KY: Sadly, there’s only one Geoff Young:

TX: “After Recent Turmoil, the Race for Texas Governor Is Tightening” [New York Times]. “One of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The revival of a 1920s ban on abortion. The country’s worst episode of migrant death in recent memory. And an electrical grid, which failed during bitter cold, now straining under soaring heat. The unrelenting succession of death and difficulty facing Texans over the last two months has soured them on the direction of the state, hurting Gov. Greg Abbott and making the race for governor perhaps the most competitive since Democrats last held that office in the 1990s. Polls have shown a tightening, single-digit contest between Mr. Abbott, the two-term incumbent, and his ubiquitous Democratic challenger, the former congressman Beto O’Rourke. Mr. O’Rourke is now raising more campaign cash than Mr. Abbott — $27.6 million to $24.9 million in the last filing — in a race that is likely to be among the most expensive of 2022. Suddenly, improbably, perhaps unwisely, Texas Democrats are again daring to think — as they have in many recent election years — that maybe this could be the year.” • Seems like the power grid is Abbott’s obvious weak point? Especially since Texas has its very own grid?


“Trump and Pence squared off in the desert. It was one-sided.” [Politico]. ” It was billed as a split screen proxy war in the desert: Donald Trump versus Mike Pence in a midterm election skirmish that would provide an early indication about the future of the GOP…. In the run-up to Trump’s rally with Lake, Stan Barnes, a former state lawmaker and longtime Republican consultant, described the Trump and Pence appearances in Arizona as ‘like some sort of celestial planet lineup that you witness every millennium … That’s what it feels like on the ground in Arizona.’ What was happening, he added, was a slow-motion, real-time ‘tearing of the fabric in the Republican Party that’s there for us to see. We have Donald Trump doing his thing with his candidate … The voters in the Republican Party in Arizona may not be aware of this yet, but they’re not just choosing a candidate to represent the party in the general election. They’re choosing the actual direction of the party.’… Pence was, indeed, there — having come to the state to support Karrin Taylor Robson, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor against the Trump-endorsed Kari Lake, who still insists, falsely, that Trump won the election in 2020…. Robson, the wealthy real estate developer and former member of the state’s board of regents, has refused to say that the 2020 election was stolen. But in a nod to Trump, she has said she doesn’t think the election was fair. She has drawn closer to Lake, the early frontrunner in the primary, not by criticizing her for falsehoods about the 2020 election — a centerpiece of Lake’s campaign — but by depicting her as an inauthentic conservative.”

“A radical plan for Trump’s second term” [Axios]. “The heart of the plan is derived from an executive order known as ‘Schedule F,’ developed and refined in secret over most of the second half of Trump’s term and launched 13 days before the 2020 election…. As Trump publicly flirts with a 2024 comeback campaign, this planning is quietly flourishing from Mar-a-Lago to Washington — with his blessing but without the knowledge of some people in his orbit. Trump remains distracted [or not, right?] by his obsession with contesting the 2020 election results. But he has endorsed the work of several groups to prime an administration-in-waiting. Personnel and action plans would be executed in the first 100 days of a second term starting on Jan. 20, 2025. New presidents typically get to replace more than 4,000 so-called ‘political’ appointees to oversee the running of their administrations. But below this rotating layer of political appointees sits a mass of government workers who enjoy strong employment protections — and typically continue their service from one administration to the next, regardless of the president’s party affiliation. An initial estimate by the Trump official who came up with Schedule F found it could apply to as many as 50,000 federal workers — a fraction of a workforce of more than 2 million, but a segment with a profound role in shaping American life. Trump, in theory, could fire tens of thousands of career government officials with no recourse for appeals. He could replace them with people he believes are more loyal to him and to his ‘America First’ agenda. Even if Trump did not deploy Schedule F to this extent, the very fact that such power exists could create a significant chilling effect on government employees. It would effectively upend the modern civil service, triggering a shock wave across the bureaucracy. The next president might then move to gut those pro-Trump ranks — and face the question of whether to replace them with her or his own loyalists, or revert to a traditional bureaucracy.” • One might wonder how many of those “civil servants” would be in the national security apparatus that crippled Trump’s first term. My guess is very few.

“Newsom Raises His Profile With Hardball Tactics, Starting With a Gun Bill” [New York Times]. “While Mr. Newsom has repeatedly insisted that he has no intention of running for the White House in 2024, his actions at times seem to belie his statements. The [anti-DeSantis] Florida ad — a $105,000 spot worth more in free publicity — turned heads in national political circles. So did his visit to Washington this month and his declarations this spring that fellow Democrats were too meekly responding to Republican moves. ‘I think he realizes that [liberal] Democrats are hungry for a hero [because they’re authoritarian followwers,’ said Kim Nalder, a political science professor at California State University, Sacramento. ‘He’s building a profile as an alternative on the left to this aggressive policymaking we’ve seen by Republicans in recent years.'” • A fully paid-up member of the California oligarchy on “the left” [bangs head on desk].

“Democrats’ 2024 chances start with primary reform” [Michael Bloomberg, The Hill]. “During my 2020 presidential campaign, I spoke about the need for reform. After all, it makes no sense to incentivize candidates to spend their time and money in places that were unlikely to dictate the outcome of the general election.” Like, ya know, South Carolina, which gave us Biden, Clinton, and Obama. More: “it was Democrats and independents in cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Phoenix who played a central role in the general election. Organizing the primary calendar around them would give our party a better chance of winning again in 2024 and beyond…. Many states are jockeying to replace Iowa as an early state, and the party committee will make its selection in August. My hope is that it doesn’t settle for a single switch and otherwise leave the status quo untouched. The party’s best hope for success lies in creating a primary calendar that reflects the importance of cities, diversity, open balloting and swing states.” • Not such a bad idea, actually. While we’re at it, let’s give the Presidential debates back to the League of Women Voters.

Republican Funhouse

“Permanent Pandemic” [Harpers]. “Under the new regime, a significant portion of the decisions that, until recently, would have been considered subject to democratic procedure have instead been turned over to experts, or purported experts, who rely for the implementation of their decisions on private companies, particularly tech and pharmaceutical companies, which, in needing to turn profits for shareholders, have their own reasons for hoping that whatever crisis they have been given the task of managing does not end. Once again, in an important sense, much of this is not new: it’s just capitalism doing its thing. What has seemed unprecedented is the eagerness with which self-styled progressives have rushed to the support of the new regime, and have sought to marginalize dissenting voices as belonging to fringe conspiracy theorists and unscrupulous reactionaries. Meanwhile, those pockets of resistance—places where we find at least some inchoate commitment to the principle of popular will as a counterbalance to elite expertise, and where unease about technological overreach may be honestly expressed—are often also, as progressives have rightly but superciliously noted, hot spots of bonkers conspiracism. This may be as much a consequence of their marginalization as a reason for it. What ‘cannot’ be said will still be said, but it will be said by the sort of person prepared to convey in speaking not just the content of an idea, but the disregard for the social costs of coming across as an outsider. And so the worry about elite hegemony gets expressed as a rumor of Anthony Fauci’s ‘reptilian’ origins, and the concern about technological overreach comes through as a fantasy about Bill Gates’s insertion of microchips into each dose of the vaccine. Meanwhile we are being tracked, by chips in our phones if not in our shoulders, and Fauci’s long record of mistakes should invite any lucid thinker to question his suitability for the role of supreme authority in matters of health.” • This is a good description of what I mean by the “Republican Funhouse”; reality is there, but distorted as in a funhouse mirror. (Fauci is a lizard only metaphorically. And frankly, if the future New Confederacy decides that biometric markers and digital currency were the Mark of the Beast, and outlawed them, I’d have to give emigration some serious thought, cray cray though the logic would be.)

Democrats en Déshabillé

I have moved my standing remarks on the Democrat Party (“the Democrat Party is a rotting corpse that can’t bury itself”) to a separate, back-dated post, to which I will periodically add material, summarizing the addition here in a “live” Water Cooler. (Hopefully, some Bourdieu.) It turns out that defining the Democrat Party is, in fact, a hard problem. I do think the paragraph that follows is on point all the way back to 2016, if not before:

The Democrat Party is the political expression of the class power of PMC, their base (lucidly explained by Thomas Frank in Listen, Liberal!). It follows that the Democrat Party is as “unreformable” as the PMC is unreformable; if the Democrat Party did not exist, the PMC would have to invent it. If the Democrat Party fails to govern, that’s because the PMC lacks the capability to govern. (“PMC” modulo “class expatriates,” of course.) Second, all the working parts of the Party reinforce each other. Leave aside characterizing the relationships between elements of the Party (ka-ching, but not entirely) those elements comprise a network — a Flex Net? An iron octagon? — of funders, vendors, apparatchiks, electeds, NGOs, and miscellaneous mercenaries, with assets in the press and the intelligence community.

Note, of course, that the class power of the PMC both expresses and is limited by other classes; oligarchs and American gentry (see ‘industrial model’ of Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Jie) and the working class spring to mind. Suck up, kick down.

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Realignment and Legitimacy

“Anti-Social Conservatives” [Gawker]. Of all places. “The belief that society doesn’t exist, or shouldn’t, is a rejection of neighborliness and trust, a democratic civic culture, and the possibility of encountering those unlike yourself on equal ground….. The conservative assault on society can also be seen in their attempt to turn our public spaces into zones of armed conflict — extending the privileges of defending your home or property to, well, almost anywhere. An armed society is not a polite society, as the trite bumper sticker asserts, but something closer to the state of nature, the war of all against all… But if society can be attacked and weakened, it also can be supported and strengthened. Democrats, at least in the past, knew how to do the latter. One of the most striking emphases of historian Eric Rauchway’s excellent recent book, Why the New Deal Matters, is that Franklin Roosevelt and his administration understood that despair could be countered and democracy fortified by a kind of social infrastructure. So they built public libraries at time when, as Rauchway observes, Nazis were burning and banning books. They built theaters and public pools and commissioned murals to beautify public spaces. My favorite detail from Rauchway’s book is how many sidewalks the New Deal helped build: throughout the 1930s and into the 1940s, workers hired by the Work Projects Administration laid about twenty-four thousand miles of new sidewalks and improved another seven thousand more. Some of this, certainly, was meant to give people jobs during the Great Depression. But they were also public goods that brought people together, and were ways of making communities easier to feel a part of and entertainment and culture enjoyable for more than the rich. It is no accident that, in the wake of such efforts, the rightwing in America was, if all too briefly, pushed to margins of our political life.” • Oh well. And on Maggie Thatcher, see here.

“Peter Thiel on the dangers of progress” (interview) [Unherd]. “[Thiel] doesn’t see restoring middle-class aspiration as a matter of returning to the past, but of seeking new real-world advances in science and technology. Along with Thiel’s own investments, which include many futuristic projects such as biotech and space exploration, the principal vehicle for his efforts to drive this change is the nonprofit Thiel Foundation, which promotes science and innovation. Its programmes include the Thiel Fellowship, which gives 20-30 young people aged 22 or under $100,000 each, every year, to drop out of college and work on an urgent idea. Graduates include Austin Russell, who founded Luminar and is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, and Vitalik Buterin, who co-founded the cryptocurrency Ethereum.” Oh. Crypto. Gee, thanks. Interesting interview, though. Less cray cray in zeritgeist-level diagnosis than I expected, way more cray on cure: “Failing other options, Thiel thinks even bleak or apocalyptic visions are better than no vision at all. The picture of European climate catastrophe associated with Greta Thunberg is, as he sees it, one of only three realistic European futures; the other two are ‘Islamic sharia law’, and ‘Chinese Communist AI’. He views the social-democratic models typical of contemporary European politics as variations on the theme of stagnation: ‘a sort of eternal Groundhog Day’. And while Greta’s vision is ‘in some ways too apocalyptic, in some ways not apocalyptic enough’, it is at least ‘a very concrete picture’, and represents the least worst of the three alternatives to stagnation.” • Thiel sounds rather like an Italian Futurist. Dynamism!


I’m really surprised that Rochelle Walensky hasn’t won the Sociopath of the Day Award; perhaps there were just too many opportunities to pick just one. Anyhow, I had to get up from my machine and walk around a little after I read this transcript:

MR. DIAMOND: Let’s stay on the White House for a second. The White House has pledged to go beyond CDC guidance in caring for President Biden, for example, to make sure that he stays in isolation until he tests negative. If the White House thinks that’s the right approach for the president, shouldn’t that be the right approach for all Americans?

Let the bafflegab begin:

DR. WALENSKY: Yeah, I think we can all agree that the president’s protocols likely go above and beyond and have the resources to go above and beyond what every American is able and has the capacity to do. As we put forward our CDC guidance, we have to do so so that they are relevant, feasible, followable by Americans…..

So we should never put forward guidance that 100% of the population can follow? We should never try to elevate our game? We should never give people the effing resources so that they could follow best practice guidance instead of the lowest common denominator? We should never engineer scientific communication to encourage, as it were, a good standard? I can certainly understand why the molasses-brained, flaccid, and democidal administration hired Walensky.

….and that is Americans that live in urban jurisdictions and rural jurisdictions, that have resources and less resources, that have, you know, work constraints and many other things. So, when we put forward our guidance, we do so so that they reflect such that every American is able to follow them. We have said in our isolation guidance–that is guidance after you have been infected–that you really should stay home for those first five days. You shouldn’t consider going out after those five days unless your symptoms have really fully resolved. And if they have, you should wear a mask if you decide to go out for those second five days.

I’m not even going to go into why Walensky’s five day “guidance” [goes in search of bucket].

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If you missed it, here’s a post on my queasiness with CDC numbers, especially case count, which I (still) consider most important, despite what Walensky’s psychos at CDC who invented “community levels” think. But these are the numbers we have.

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Case Count

Case count for the United States:

The train is still rolling. There was a weird, plateau-like “fiddling and diddling” stage before the Omicron explosion, too. This conjuncture feels the same. Under the hood the BA.4/BA.5 are making up a greater and greater proportion of cases. Remember that cases are undercounted, one source saying by a factor of six, Gottlieb thinking we only pick up one in seven or eight.) Hence, I take the case count and multiply it by six to approximate the real level of cases, and draw the DNC-blue “Biden Line” at that point. The previous count was ~123,300. Today, it’s ~122,150 and 122,150 * 6 = a Biden line at 732,900 per day. That’s rather a lot of cases per day, when you think about it. At least we have confirmation that the extraordinary mass of case anecdotes we’ve seen have a basis in reality. (Remember these data points are weekly averages, so daily fluctuations are smoothed out.) The black “Fauci Line” is a counter to triumphalism, since it compares current levels to past crises.

Regional case count for four weeks:

The South:

The West:


NOT UPDATED From the Walgreen’s test positivity tracker, July 19:

1.1%. Up. (I wonder if there’s a Keynesian Beauty Contest effect, here; that is, if people encounter a sympotomatic person, whether in their social circle or in normal activity, they are more likely to get a test, because they believe, correctly, that it’s more likely they will be infected.) What we are seeing here is the steepest and largest acceleration of positivity on Walgreen’s chart.


NOTE: I shall most certainly not be using the CDC’s new “Community Level” metric. Because CDC has combined a leading indicator (cases) with a lagging one (hospitalization) their new metric is a poor warning sign of a surge, and a poor way to assess personal risk. In addition, Covid is a disease you don’t want to get. Even if you are not hospitalized, you can suffer from Long Covid, vascular issues, and neurological issues. For these reasons, case counts — known to be underestimated, due to home test kits — deserve to stand alone as a number to be tracked, no matter how much the political operatives in CDC leadership would like to obfuscate it. That the “green map” (which Topol calls a “capitulation” and a “deception”) is still up and being taken seriously verges on the criminal. Use the community transmission immediately below.

Here is CDC’s interactive map by county set to community transmission. This is the map CDC wants only hospitals to look at, not you. For July 21, 2020:

Status quo, i.e. it’s a totally not-over pandemic.

Lambert here: After the move from the CDC to the laughingly named ‘https://healthdata.gov,” this notice appeared: “Effective June 22, 2022, the Community Profile Report will only be updated twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.” So now the administration has belatedly come to the realization that we’re in a BA.5 surge, and yet essential data for making our personal risk assessment is only available twice a week. What’s the over/under on whether they actually deliver tomorrow?

NOT UPDATED Rapid Riser data, by county (CDC), July 21:

Status quo for counties but more yellow than red.

Previous Rapid Riser data:

NOT UPDATED Hospitalization data, by state (CDC), July 21:

Lots of yellow. Haven’t seen so little green (good) in quite some time.


Lambert here: It’s beyond frustrating how slow the variant data is. I looked for more charts: California doesn’t to a BA.4/BA.5 breakdown. New York does but it, too, is on a molasses-like two-week cycle. Does nobody in the public health establishment get a promotion for tracking variants? Are there no grants? Is there a single lab that does this work, and everybody gets the results from them? Additional sources from readers welcome [grinds teeth, bangs head on desk].

NOT UPDATED Variant data, national (Walgreens), July 10:

Variant data, national (CDC), July 9 (Nowcast off):

BA.5 moving along nicely.


Wastewater data (CDC), Jul 22:

I found this chart hard to read, so I filtered the output to the highest levels (somewhat like Rapid Riser Counties, see on here). What’s visible is that a lot of cities are in trouble; but that coverage is really patchy. Illinois, for example, has always had a lot of coverage, but the dots stop at the Illinois border. This chart works a bit like rapid riser counties: “This metric shows whether SARS-CoV-2 levels at a site are currently higher or lower than past historical levels at the same site. 0% means levels are the lowest they have been at the site; 100% means levels are the highest they have been at the site.” So, there’s a bunch of red dots on the West Coast. That’s 100%, so that means “levels are the highest they’ve ever been.” Not broken down by variant, CDC, good job.


Death rate (Our World in Data):

Total: 1,052,467 1,051,996. I have added an anti-triumphalist Fauci Line. It’s nice that for deaths I have a nice, simple, daily chart that just keeps chugging along, unlike everything else CDC and the White House are screwing up or letting go dark, good job.

Stats Watch

Manufacturing: “United States Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Richmond Fed composite manufacturing index remained flat in July, recovering from a revised -9 in June. Shipments and new order volume indexes increased to 7 and -10 from -17 and -20 in June, respectively, while the employment index dropped to 8 from 16 in the previous month. In the meantime, firms expected an improvement in the next six months and expected wages to remain elevated.”

Housing: “United States Case Shiller Home Price Index YoY” [Trading Economics]. “The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index in the US increased 20.5% yoy in May of 2022, slowing from a record jump of 21.2% in April and below forecasts of 20.6%.” • Yikes!

Housing: “United States House Price Index YoY” [Trading Economics]. “The average prices of single-family houses with mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the United States increased 18.3 percent from a year earlier in May 2022, following an upwardly revised 18.9 percent gain in April.” • Yikes!


Not just Target; Walmart, if what the workers are seeing in the back rooms are any guide.

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The Bezzle: “Why none of my books are available on Audible” [Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic]. “Under DMCA 1201, it is a felony to “traffick” in tools that bypass DRM. Doing so can land you in prison for five years and hit you with a fine of up to $500,000 (for a first offense). This clause is so broadly written that merely passing on factual information about bugs in a system with DRM can put you in hot water. Here’s where we get to the existential risk to all computer users part. As a technology, DRM has to run as code that is beyond your observation and control. If there’s a program running on your computer or phone called “DRM” you can delete it, or go into your process manager and force-quit it. No one wants DRM. No one woke up this morning and said, “Dammit, I wish there was a way I could do less with the entertainment files I buy online.” DRM has to hide itself from you, or the first time it gets in your way, you’ll get rid of it. The proliferation of DRM means that all the commercial operating systems now have a way to run programs that the owners of computers can’t observe or control. Anything that a technologist does to weaken that sneaky, hidden facility risks DMCA 1201 prosecution – and half a decade in prison. That means that every device with DRM is designed to run programs you can’t see or kill, and no one is allowed to investigate these devices and warn you if they have defects that would allow malicious software to run in that deliberately obscured part of your computer, stealing your data and covertly operating your device’s sensors and actuators. This isn’t just about hacking your camera and microphone: remember, every computerized “appliance” is capable of running every program, which means that your car’s steering and brakes are at risk from malicious software, as are your medical implants and the smart thermostat in your home. A device that is designed for sneaky code execution and is legally off-limits to independent auditing is bad. A world of those devices – devices we put inside our bodies and put our bodies inside of – is fucking terrifying.” • Ties in neatly with biometric data, no? “We don’t know what happened. Their pacemaker just stopped.” Preferable to mass slaughter, I suppose, so modified rapture.

The Bezzle: “The Crypto Revolution Wants to Reimagine Books” [Esquire]. “What if the book series functioned like a publicly traded company where individuals could ‘buy stock’ in it, and as the franchise grows, those ‘stocks’ become more valuable? If this were the case, someone who purchased just three percent of Harry Potter back when there was only one book would be a billionaire now. Just imagine how that would affect the reading experience. Suddenly a trip to Barnes & Noble becomes an investment opportunity.” • What if I got a bucket and stuck two fingers down my throat? Commentary:

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 38 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 33 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jul 26 at 1:30 PM EDT.

Health Care

“MaineHealth turned a COVID-19 grant into a permanent telehealth program” [Healthcare IT News]. “MaineHealth was awarded $803,268 from the FCC telehealth award program for telemedicine carts, laptop computers, tablets, and videoconferencing equipment and software with which providers can conduct virtual rounding for inpatients, that will enable patients to see specialty care and primary care providers from the patient’s home, and so patients in the hospitals can use tablets to see and talk with family members who they otherwise cannot see due to the significant restrictions on visiting caused by the threat of COVID–19…. Now that the virtual care framework is established, MaineHealth looks forward to continuing to build out its omni-channel offerings for patients and care teams in order to improve quality of care, improve patient experience and enhance the care team experience, she concluded.” • This is good, because so often grant money doesn’t go to infrastructure. In some ways, I feel that telemedicine writes off rural areas as undeserving of personal care, but OTOH Maine is a big, poor state. Sigh. Have any readers had telemedicine experiences?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Black Leadership Academy” [McKinsey & Co.] “We have a deep, long-standing commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in business, in society, and within our firm. We believe, and our research suggests, that inclusion and diversity make a significant difference to an organization’s performance. Building on our experience developing leadership capabilities in our people and our clients, we created the Black Leadership Academy. The program is available at no cost and is designed to provide Black leaders a catalyst for growth to help them achieve their professional aspirations. This includes equipping them with the mindsets, capabilities, and most importantly, a peer network, to help in their journey.” • I’m glad McKinsey boarded the DEI train, even if a little late. (But I hate the notion of “leadership,” “young leaders” (at Davos), “leader” in headlines instead of a proper corporate or government title. I think “leadership” is MBA-speak, and actual “leadership,” whatever that means, is contingent and context-sensitive. Also, I think “leader” sounds better in the original German.

News of the Wired

Eating bugs, plus a market for used Teslas that works like this:

“After massive bus fire, CT pulls electric fleet from service” [CT Insider]. “One day after officials touted the passage of the Connecticut Clean Air Act, including plans for thousands of electric vehicles to hit the road, one of the state-run electric buses caught on fire over the weekend…. In addition to the electric state-run buses, public school buses will also shift to electric models, according to the governor’s statement. The Clean Air Act will also prohibit the procurement of diesel-powered buses after 2023, according to the statement.” • Impressive photo!

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Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From CG:

CG writes: “Until the late summer and early fall goldenrod come along, thistle
flowers are my favorite for their ability to attract insects of all types. As I have mentioned, this year I’ve come across more fuzzy or hairy bumblebees than ever before. At first I thought they were “golden northern bumblebees,” but now I’m leaning toward the “perplexing bumblebee” (Bombus perplexus), definitely a bumblebee for our times.” Totally. At first I thought thistles were pretty, because of their purple flowers. But they were too invasive, even for me!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. hamstak

    If somebody could square this:
    “the Thiel Fellowship, which gives 20-30 young people aged 22 or under $100,000 each”

    with this:
    “Graduates include Austin Russell, who founded Luminar and is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire”

    I would be much obliged.

    Does Thiel have any of these young upstarts working on the problem of procuring juvenile blood?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Nevermind that the company is not profitable. It only lost $0.21/share last year. But I guess profit is so old school in this age of stock market largess.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Are you referring to Luminar and Austin Russel wrt. “the company”? What is there to explain regarding Austin Russell, and fools who invest in Luminar? We live and invest in illusion.

  2. Solarjay

    Lithium fires are super toxic, especially NMC chemistry which is probably what was in that bus. Also NMC are much more prone to that kind of fire than LFP.

    It releases hydrogen fluoride.
    Stay the heck away from that fire.

    If it wasn’t a physical damage issue ( like running over something that punctured the battery) that set it off, then there are some really poor components, design or manufacturing process to allow that to happen. Not good.

  3. notabanker

    “equipping them with the mindsets, capabilities, and most importantly, a peer network, to help in their journey.”

    Allow me to translate:
    We are happy to train black people to be effective sociopaths like the rest of us.

  4. drumlin woodchuckles

    It would be unfortunate if it is left to the New Confederacy to outlaw biometric identification and outlaw digital currency for “mark of the beast” reasons.

    It is the supporters of biometric identification and digital currency who create the vacuum which will suck the New Confederacy into power. Just based on principles of Total Revenge and Justice being served totally and utterly, I would hope that such a New Confederacy puts to death every single person who supports biometric identification and digital currency, and puts to death every single person who works, or ever worked, on such technologies or adjacent technologies.

    The establishment is pushing tens of millions of people into welcoming the Butlerian Jihad, if it can be totally and utterly successful in wiping out every single person who is pushing us towards welcoming it.

  5. Larry Carlson

    >> Go look at the labor market; walk around and see all the “help wanted signs.”

    Sham’s reliance on the labor market as a recession indicator is a bit suspect because:
    1) In an inflationary environment, unemployment may be more of a lagging indicator than it usually is (firms can lower real payroll costs by delaying raises rather than staff reductions).
    2) Post-COVID, their seem to be structural issues with the labor market due to early retirement and people permanently leaving less attractive sectors (such as hospitality and retail). This has created a persistent mismatch between available and desired jobs that has kept people out of the labor force and kept staffing relatively lean.

    1. griffen

      A fairly decent number of data points to highlight that demand has really shifted mid-2022, at least based on reports I listened to earlier Tuesday. From the Wal Mart report, by example, what does it imply from the biggest US retailer they are seeing more spending on groceries and basic sundry supplies as opposed to spending on the soft goods like clothing / apparel, or outdoor goods? That inventory of now less interesting goods goes into another bucket for wholesalers like Ollie’s.

      Dealing with legitimate high inflation in food, high inflation in US rents and still elevated prices at the US gas pump (albeit prices at the pump have declined in the last few weeks). I also believe your second point is a key issue in the years to come.

      Adding – maybe not recession territory, but slowing growth for the rest of 2022. I’m on the fence as to whether we wind up having a recession.

  6. Sub-Boreal

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    I’ve always been highly allergic to anything with “leadership” in its title, but I thought it was just me. You’ve made my day.

    Not that McKinsey would ever be involved, or that it would ever even occur to them, but how about training in “decent human-ship”?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Interesting that McKinsey’s “research” suggests that “inclusion and diversity make a significant difference to an organization’s performance”. “Significant” in what way? Greatly increased profits would fall under the “significant” umbrella, but so would causing institutional infighting to the point the organization is dysfunctional. Personally, I’m finding that repeated mandatory DEI training courses taught by middle aged white ladies that insinuate I might be a racist have not improved my own morale, but perhaps others have enjoyed it. But who knows? – actually discussing your displeasure with the offered training is the type of thing that will have you living under a bridge in the current political climate.

      Diversity is a good thing. It’s the forcing of a certain type of it down people’s throats and lumping everyone together as being in need of training or some type of re-education that’s going to cause a backlash if it doesn’t let up. The entire DEI industry, and it has become an industry in recent years, comes off as just another grift.

      Here’s to “decent human-ship”. Solidarity, people!

    2. hunkerdown

      “Leadership” is “command” with saccharin* on it. (According to Wikipedia, it is “about 550 times as sweet as sucrose but has a bitter or metallic aftertaste” and “may cause cancer in rats”.)

      I’ve found that those who cry out for “leadership” are, on average, authoritarians who really want an increase in general followership and hope they will enjoy the higher-order effects of people being led.

  7. lyman alpha blob

    RE: the Geoff Young tweet

    I will never forget the 2008 campaign for US Senate in Maine where the very popular Congressman Tom Allen challenged Susan Collins. If there were ever time to unseat Collins, this was it. Unlike Collins’ more recent challenger Sarah Gideon, Allen was not a carpetbagger or a squillionaire, but a real Mainiac, a pretty decent human being, and was popular and had already been elected to national office several times. However rather than going after Collins for her egregious support of all the misdeeds of the Bush administration, he didn’t really go negative on her at all and focused quite a bit of attention on making sure a third party candidate whose name I can’t even remember was stripped from the ballot on rather questionable grounds from what I recall. Collins handed Allen his ass in that election.

    A few years before that I was a questioner in the crowd for a panel Allen was participating in, discussing the Bush administration’s illegal surveillance. He suggested writing elected officials, including then Senator Olympia Snowe, and sending letters to the editor as a way to express displeasure with these policies. I mentioned that many in the audience had already done all those things with no effect whatsoever, and since Snowe was facing re-election, would he pledge to support her Democratic party opponent in that year’s election. Allen, a lifelong Democrat, could not bring himself to say yes, even to that crowd of dozens at the most.

    It’s a big club….

    1. 430 MLK

      Young’s been suing the KY DNC for years, which so-callled left activists in KY (mainly University of Kentucky/Lexington-based academic progressives) have defined as ‘crazy’ and in bad faith. I need to get into those lawsuits more…soon.

      The 2020 Breonna Taylor/George Floyd protests in Louisville have since opened a space for non-Republican criticism of the Dem party, so I see Young’s statewide profile rising a bit. How far? We’ll find out—but the Dem-aligned media absolutely hates him, and the state Dem governor (a Democrat legacy family name) has openly questioned Young’s mental health in unequivocally stating he will not endorse Young. (The UK college Dems have said the same, citing Young’s stance on the war in Ukraine.)

      It’s important to note that KY Dems (like most southern Dems) have a long and deep history of actions that would otherwise be attributed to to modern-day Republicans, despite media attempts to brand them as progressive.

      Sorry for the scatter-brained writing. I’m on vacation in Folly Beach.

  8. ChiGal

    >And the endpoint of the “schemes” was…. this:

    enough with the logical fallacies already please. a half-assed outcome does not exonerate intent.

    or are you claiming repeatedly here that incompetence unlike ignorance is an excuse under the law?

    1. hunkerdown

      What law, exactly? Cite the text so that we can determine whether intent is even a factor in the law in question. Or are you just virtue-signalling and further discrediting bourgeois liberalism as the moral whimsy of a petty aristocratic class, rather than a valid ideology?

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m going to take John Bolton’s word on this one. Here he is a couple weeks ago on CNN saying that what happened on Jan 6 was not a planned coup, and it was just Trump rambling aimlessly, going from one thing to another with no focus, looking after himself rather than having any intent to attack our democracy. He then goes on to say that he of all people should know Trump wasn’t able to plan a coup, having planned so many himself (!).


      So why are the powers that be still trying to nail Trump while allowing officials like Bolton who shred international law and commit war crimes to have cushy pundit jobs?

      Until people like Bolton are held to account, it’s impossible to take any of this kayfabe seriously. But I will say we need to see more buffalo hat clown man and not just the podium filcher all the time.

      1. rowlf

        Well… let’s try some Babylon Bee: Frustrated Capitol Gift Shop Lady Finally Puts Up Sign Saying ‘NO WE DO NOT SELL BUFFALO HAT SOUVENIRS’

        WASHINGTON, D.C. – According to inside sources, the Capitol Gift Shop has been inundated with tourists looking for Jan 6 hearing souvenirs leading one irritated employee to tack up a large sign at the entrance to the store reading “NO WE DO NOT SELL BUFFALO HAT SOUVENIRS”.

        On your first topic, as a USian, I feel like I have been sold an inferior product. The Russians have Sergey (Lavrov) and Sergei (Shoigu). In the US we get Antony Blinken and John Bolton/Elliott Abrams. I feel cheated. It’s like getting processed government product instead of the real thing.

    3. marym

      Here’s my take that no one asked for: The end point of the “7 schemes” or whatever the committee is calling it was that Trump would still be president even though he lost the election, and had been told that by several people (who testified to that, but didn’t say it in public at the time). Trump got interested in the rally after earlier schemes didn’t pan out.

      The committee did itself no favors focusing on the riot, or saying other schemes somehow culminated in the riot. Their “wheel and spoke” metaphor isn’t helpful either, as though Trump was the mastermind stirring all these pots. There were lawyers collecting conspiracy theories, state legislatures scheming about fake electors. I’d guess some of them were urging Trump on, rather than the other way around.

      Whether or how the schemes were coordinated hasn’t been shown. Of all the schemers, the rioters had the least idea about any mechanism or pseudo-mechanism to achieve the end point. If they thought about media at all they had their cell phones and right-wing media.

      I have no particular objection to the committee displaying all that elite and non-elite Trumpists tried to do because they decided the votes of 10’s of millions of their fellow citizens shouldn’t count. Whether any laws were broken will be handled by the DOJ, not the committee.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        Based on every bit of evidence I can muster I cannot for the life of me believe that Donald Trump would ever be a party to any plan that has 7 parts to it. Three tops. His ADD would have kicked in before parts 6 and 7 were even mentioned.

      2. HotFlash

        Whether any laws were broken will be handled by the DOJ, not the committee.

        I will not hold my breath. Professional courtesy, after all.

        As for Prez Trump, I have to agree w/Michael Ismoe’s diagnosis. Squirrel!

      3. ChiGal

        totally agree that as far as the law goes, the DOJ and not the committee is where the action is. so no, hunkerdown, just a sucker for wordplay (“incompetence under the law”), not any of those other fancy things you accused me of ;-)

        the committee is mostly politics and as I have said before, an enormous time suck.

        but just try a thought experiment: footage of the cop being beaten by the crowd with a flagpole after the words “and the endpoint of the ‘scheme’ was…this:” and the mockery falls a bit flat.

  9. digi_owl

    Got to love it when Cory goes rambling on about DRM, when some years back he was advocating for turning TPM, effectively the enabler for even more stringent DRM on computers going forward, into some privacy defense tool.

    Also, while growing up my parents had me enrolled to some book club or other. And towards my teens they used to publish one that was a collection of stories etc made by other kids.

    And one story was a scifi one where people had a poison vial inserted near the heart at birth. And if the population was deemed too high, a random selection of elders would get a notification that that said poison would be released on a specific date. And the story revolves around an older gentleman getting ready for that day by uncorking a bottle of fine wine and dressing in his finest after a long bath.

    1. hunkerdown

      His support was contingent on a slightly foolish expectation.

      He sees it as a crucial “nub of secure certainty” in your machine—but only to the extent that it is implemented to allow owners to choose what they trust—not vendors or governments.

      As if intellectual property capitalism would value such a thing.

    2. Carolinian

      TPM? Trusted Platform Module? Can’t recall any columns on that. Perhaps a link?

      And what Doctorow used to talk about was that DRM doesn’t work. When H’wood came out with the DVD they used a DRM scheme so ineffective that a Norwegian teenager cracked it in a matter of weeks and when they came out with BluRay it was hacked in a couple of months. Perhaps secrecy has improved since then and our info is more safe but I agree with his above warning about the internet of things etc. Silicon Valley is not to be trusted. We’ve always known that which is why some of us don’t put secrets on our computers.

      The whole hysterical campaign against Assange demostrates elite frustration with their techie hubris and subsequent readiness to bring out the thumbscrews.Fear of Big Brother assumes a certain amount of competence. The lack of same is our real problem.We should be sandboxing things away from the internet rather than wiring them up.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I was waiting for someone to advance the idea of buying a book, chapter by chapter. So with that Harry Potter book, the first chapter is cheap and if you want to see what happens in the next chapter you pay more digitally to unlock it. Of course it gets expensive by the time you near the end but the last chapter is the most dearest of them all. A scheme made possible only by digitized capitalism.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I believe Stephen King tried something like that. Didn’t work.

        On the other hand, such a page turner as The Three Musketeers was originally published in a daily La Ciecle during four months in 1844.

        1. The Rev Kev

          The first Sherlock Holmes stories were printed in “The Strand” magazine in the late 1880s on in the same way. When Arthur Conan Doyle temporarily killed Holmes off after a coupla years, “The Strand” reportedly lost 20,000 subscribers.

  10. JBird4049

    >>>[Newsom] A fully paid-up member of the California oligarchy on “the left” [bangs head on desk].

    Oh, yes. From the state that gave us Ronald Reagan and Kamala Harris.

      1. griffen

        And to add – Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, Dianne Feinstein…

        But I am inclined to point out the incredible athletes. Lot of great track stars from UCLA, just for one example. Let alone the basketball and football talent (to be fair some were from farther away; Alcindor was a high schooler from New York, of course today that is Abdul-Jabbar).

  11. flora

    re: Newsom

    A fully paid-up member of the California oligarchy on “the left” [bangs head on desk].

    And worse, a fully paid-up member of WEF. / ;)

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      There are as many “lefts” as there are roses … =-)

      I swear I chucked a whole bunch of left prefixes in a doc somewhere, but I can’t find them at the mo’ …

      Anyway, given that we already have:

      • Alt Left
      • Dirtbag Left
      • Far Left
      • Podcast Left
      • Radical Left
      • Soi-Disant Left (from non other that our esteemed founder, Yves!)

      … perhaps it’s time for the “WEF Left”


          1. Michael Fiorillo

            Well, they replaced the Old (now Old Old) Left of the CIO and New Deal, but they are now the Old Left, until replaced by the current crop of putative Lefties, who will become irrelevant even faster than our ’60’s and ’70’s cohort… Neonatal Neoliberal Left (good one!) turned Gerontological Left…

            1. JBird4049

              I managed to delete a looong comment and I am sad. But let me note that just about all the arts including painting, theater, writing, and I assume from similar decay as expression, architecture which is a form of sculpture, music, all of the classical areas such as philosophy, english, religion, history, even the areas of anthropology, psychology, etc, have gone neoliberal, maybe plasticized, into soulless and very empty post-modern BS. This (overly long sentence) is to show that not just the Old New Deal Left and Classical Liberalism, but the various civil rights movements were infested, perverted, and subsumed into the various grifts we all know and love; I think it no accident that when the civil reform movements began to become economic reform movements, as well as social, that all the then current leadership was displaced, discredited, or in some cases like MLK, Fred Hampton, Malcom X, and RFK made dead. Add those on the CIA payroll like Gloria Steinem or Jackson Pollock. I supposed that the Black Misleadership Class and operations like the DLC should also be counted.

              The deliberate creation of the Neoliberal Left from the corpse of the New Deal Left is so Cthulhulisticly horrifying and vast that in talking about it one could plausibly be described as an overwrought and insane paranoiac overdosing on his own supply of preferred chemicals. (Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and does pizza count?) But while I could possibly be that, I would still not be wrong. Sadly.

              1. ChrisRUEcon

                Ah yes, The Infiltrated Left, or perhaps, “splitter style”, The Left Infiltrate!

      1. rowlf

        There are as many “lefts” as there are roses … =-)

        Splitters? (À la Life Of Brian?)

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          LOL …

          cf. Splitters (via YouTube) for those who are interested, A funny encapsulation of the battle for left legitimacy … :)

          1. rowlf

            A few decades ago I belonged to an excessively democratic craft union. I never expected I would be a member of the group organized like the People’s Front of Judea.

            (I also take pride that a previous union contract under the RLA before changing union representation had new language to NOT allow two things I had conspired to do in the past. It was fun to look at a contact book and say “I caused that.”)

          1. JBird4049

            Having Liz Chaney, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris being of this “Left” is like describing the John Birch Society as composed of Eisenhower Republicans.

            1. ambrit

              I knew some Birchers way back. They made the Rockefeller NWO Tri-lateral Commission brethren look like Sunday School Pastors.
              I don’t think they ever forgave Nixon for going to China.

  12. flora

    re: Peter Thiel

    I don’t know why I’m sensing a red flag in his so-nice presentation. Maybe it’s his Palantir and other big tech security agencies connections. (Talk is cheap. I watch what people do.) For some reason I’m thinking about the opening lines from this The Ethical Skeptic post:

    Tyflocracy: The New Art of Oppressive Governance

    Imagine a new form of totalitarian governance, composed of non-elected officials who have been indoctrinated into believing that they hold a superior intellect and humanity to those whom they were appointed to serve.

    Imagine a new form of government so convinced of its own virtue mandate and the contrasting original sin of its constituents, that it has adopted the view that its own citizens are now a less-than-human enemy – no longer worthy of the full slate of human rights.




    1. flora

      Paraphrasing Whitney Webb: You can’t separate big tech from the state or from the Military Industrial Complex.

  13. Jason Boxman

    I guess the Pandemic really is over. On the US Bank site: “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, branch hours may have changed and face masks are required.” But the link for covid-19 is “404 Not Found”.

    So which is it? And how hard is it to just remove the banner, if they’re done with it anyway? This is basic web site administration competence here, which is lacking at US Bank. I guess they hired people from CDC? Or Maybe CDC hires from them?

  14. JTMcPhee

    I think Russia, on the collapse of the Soviet Union, was about where the US was in 1935 or so. Lots of existing industry and agriculture and huge resources waiting to be “tapped”/looted.

    How has it turned out that the Russian Federation is approaching self-sufficiency bordering on autarky, has a reasonably decent social support network, a truly “world class” military, and adherence to the actual “rule of law” and trustworthiness in business and political activities?

    Whereas the US has become a pariah, “not agreement capable,” has wasted or given away most of its resources, industry and agriculture, and is headed toward beggar status in a new international arrangement that, if Putin is to be believed, will be based on a community of sovereign nations, working to make things better for everyone? Headed toward being a beggar state only distinguished by a ruling class that has lots of nuclear weapons and by its recent statements, is not afraid to use them, even though it amounts to suicide, and murder of most of the rest of us?

    This geographic space is headed for deeper internal division and dissension, even though there’s lots of resources that could still be turned to positive production that might lead to more of a “let’s all pull on the same end of the rope” public spirit. The Soviet Union was at about the same state of disaffection and corruption, as it disappeared. Despite the looting attempted by the “combined West” after 1991, there’s now a pretty healthy polity (hardly perfect of course, but I’m speaking relatively here”) that appears to be headed in a positive direction — not the thieves’ carnival that characterizes the “combined West.”

    What are the differences that would need to be addressed, to move the US and Perfidious Albion and Germany onto a healthier track? It’s apparently a sin to study Russia (and China, too,) hence the vast failures of our leaders in responding to Russian and Chinese initiatives relative to the rest of the world. I would love for my grandchildren to mature in a polity that more resembles those alien nations than the dismantled, demolished mess that currently seems to be the most likely future.

  15. KD

    “Leadership”–manipulating masses of people to take actions that are contrary to their own personal interest, and generally in the interest of the Leader.

    It is contingent on the marks you target but never context sensitive.

  16. ambrit

    Anyone else noticing the “Internal Server Error” code 500 notice when trying to link to “S—hF—t?”
    Any other “subversive” sites down at this time?
    Stay safe!

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